One of my friends is getting ready to become a pharmacist 🙂 She is one of my subscribers, and I’m always grateful for her insights. I asked her to fill us in a bit about the various medicines used in treating diabetes.
As you know, this chronic disease has reached epidemic proportions here in the United States, as well as most other developed countries. Taking control of your health is one of the key concepts on Making All Things New, regardless of whether diabetes is an issue for you or someone you care about.
I hope you find her thoughts as informative as I have.
To start I would like to congratulate Paul for having the fortitude to change his life to take back control of his health when diagnosed with a disease that terrifies many people. He not only embraced a new lifestyle but has had the courage and concern for others to speak out about his experience.
Paul has asked me to write about the medications that are involved in diabetes. This information isn’t meant to substitute for your doctor’s advice, but just as an introduction. For more information, check out the American Diabetes Association website www.diabetes.org or talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Diabetes Mellitus is a disease that occurs when your body no longer can handle glucose (sugar) appropriately. Type I diabetes occurs as an autoimmune disorder where the cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin, are destroyed. Type II diabetes occurs when your body is resistant to insulin. Insulin is responsible for the transport of glucose from the blood into the cells of the body. When this doesn’t occur correctly you are at risk for complications.
Diabetes has many serious consequences, when not treated appropriately and aggressively. Some of these consequences include cardiovascular disease, vision problems, impotence in men, foot and leg ulcers (infections that can lead to amputation), loss of/decreased feeling in arms and legs and other complications. Diabetes is a serious disease that requires treatment by a medical team and life style changes. Type I diabetes normally occurs at a younger age and Type II diabetes normally occurs later in life. But this is changing and more and more children, teens and young adults are being diagnosed with Type II diabetes. The thought behind this is it is due to all of the fast food/high sugar foods that most Americans eat. The most common signs and symptoms of diabetes caused by hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) are increased thirst, increased urination, weight loss, increased appetite and blurred vision.
The first thing people think of when they hear of diabetes is normally “I can’t eat anything good anymore.” Paul has addressed that, you just need to make smart choices in what you eat. You can still make food that tastes good, but is also good for you. The second is normally “Needles! I can’t prick and inject myself!!” For any patient with diabetes, monitoring blood sugar levels is imperative to know how your body reacts to and handles glucose (sugar) at different points during the day. I agree pricking your finger hurts. But it’s imperative to your health. The good news is the amount of blood required to measure your blood sugar now is much less than it was in the past. There are also meters available now that allow you to test on alternative sites, such as your arm, where there are less nerve endings and thus less pain.
Often people with Type II Diabetes start off being prescribed oral medications. There are enough of these to make your head spin. The classes of these oral medications include: alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, biguanides, DPP-4 inhibitors, meglitinides, sulfonylureas and thiazolidinediones. Each class has slightly different uses and side effects. Side effects vary within each class of medication. Your doctor will be able to tell you which type of medication is best for you and be able to discuss different side effects. For a description of each of the types of classes of medications check out, http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/oral-medications/what-are-my-options.html.